Byrne Group Plate

A 50/1 winner stunned punters last season. You’ll need all the help you can get with this tricky handicap chase, here’s our guide to the race…

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What happened in 2013?

Burnt fingers for many punters as the well backed 7/2 favourite Ballynagour could only finish eight as 50/1 skinner Carrickboy stunned the betting ring.

The man in the saddle, Liam Treadwell, did a similar turn for the bookmakers in the 2010 Grand National when he rode Mon Mome to victory at 100/1. There are fewer better jockeys around on a supposed outsider than Treadwell.

He was in the firing line on the winner from the very first fence. Employing different tactics that saw him pull up at Warwick last time out, he bounced right back to form, enjoying being out in front and putting in a fine round of jumping.

His rivals came at him with three to jump and it the writing looked on the wall when the hot pot favourite for David Pipe loomed upsides. However, when jockey Tom Scudamore asked the question, Ballynagour found nothing and the groans from the betting ring were deafening.

Vino Griego gave the winner the most to think about but couldn’t get past in the final 100 yards, despite pinging the last. He was beat under two lengths but never looked likely to get his head in front.

2014 Major Players

Like all Festival handicaps, it’s almost impossible to have a confident prediction about who will line up on the day. Please feel free to return here nearer the race for a lowdown on all the big challengers.

Betting advice: strong race trends

If flushing money down the toilet is a favourite past time of yours, then following horses rated above 141 should be a tactic that you enjoy. The record they hold is simply terrible in this race as low weighted runners always perform above expectations.

Carrickboy’s win wouldn’t have come as a surprise to many who follow this trend as Venetia Williams’ charge was running off just 136. His victory was the 23rd time in the last 25 renewals that a horse running off less than 141 has triumphed.

To take that stat a little further, the last horse to be rated 150+ and win was The Tsarevich 28 years ago, and 8/1 Hunt Ball couldn’t defy that trend last year.

Trainer’s are a creature of habit and it’s unsurprising that the same faces continually send their best handicapped horses to this race, and more often than not win it too. Williams’ win with Carrickboy was her third win in the race since 2006 whilst Pipe also targets this race with his classy types, as shown by two wins in the last four years.

Key Trials

Well, look no further than any handicap race run at the Cheltenham Festival around this distance as 18 of the last 22 winners had all previously experienced the atmosphere at Prestbury Park when the Festival is on.

With horses at the bottom of the handicap outperforming the more classy types, it’s best to keep an eye on some Class Three races in the build up to the Festival. One that springs to mind is one run at Kempton in mid-January, called the William Hill Ipad App Now Availible Handicap Chase last season, as it has produced two of the last nine winners.

Ante post tip

Bookmakers have yet to price up this market as there is little point in doing so as its nigh-on impossible to plan which horses will undertake this challenge. February will be the time to start plotting a punting angle on this race.

When a market is formed, the smart players will be siding with a horse at the bottom of the weights that have already had a run at the Cheltenham Festival.